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Term “vegetarian burgers" not misleading, finds inquiry

An EU amendment to ban the use of words like ‘sausage’ and ‘burger’ to describe foods that don’t contain meat has been deemed unnecessary by The House of Lords.

Following a roundtable discussion, The House of Lords found no evidence “vegetarian burgers” are misleading for consumers and said that any ban of the phrase would, in fact, reduce consumer clarity and be a barrier to growth for a burgeoning sector of the food industry.

It also believed a ban would make it more challenging for people to reduce the amount of meat in their diet at a time when Government should be seeking to encourage the opposite.

The Committee heard no evidence that consumers had felt they were misled by meat-free products and less than 4% of people had ever unintentionally bought a vegetarian product instead of a meat free version. Further, witnesses were unanimous in the view that current naming conventions around vegetarian burgers and sausages in particular are clear and easy to understand.

The response follows a move by the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development in April to seek to restrict the use of descriptions like “sausage”, “burger” and “steak” to apply only to products containing meat and not to vegetarian alternatives.

The proposal will be considered by the European Parliament no earlier than autumn 2019.

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